Gone Bike About...

Oct 2 – 9, 2010                                                                                                                                                

Basel – Sant-Ursaine – La Chaux-de-Fonds – Couvet – Lac de Joux – Nyon
The Jura mountain range, straddling the Swiss-French border between Basel and Lake Geneva, is the Swiss national cycling route number 7. Criss-crossing the international border and taking in 7 Swiss cantons, this Jura route was a first for both of us. Older than the Alps and a former limestone ocean floor, the Jura range is quite unique in Switzerland. The 300 km trail led us up and down steep inclines, but never above 1500masl. The autumn reds and golds were magnificent and we got the chance to practice our French on a daily basis.
Pumpkins

Cute firewood pile

Once out of Basel, we spent a lot of time cycling through forests, where the farmers had their firewood neatly stacked for the hard winter ahead. Local villages were selling endless varieties of pumpkin and squash. On the whole we followed the main route 7, but for a challenge now and then we skipped over to the mountain bike trail number 3.

Just follow the signs…

Knowing that we were going to run out of kms, we added a few little side tracks to fill the week! Porrentruy’s medieval castle and gates gave a real feel of stepping back in time, as did the limestone caves dating back 60,000 years. Actually, way back 60 million years ago, this area is reputed to have looked just like the Bahamas, as far as vegetation goes.
Porrentruy

Grottes de Reclère

Emerging from the depths of the earth, we had a serious rise in temperature from 6° Celsius underground to 21° in the sun outside. It was perfect cycling weather, and our freewheel down to the beautiful River Doubs and Sant-Ursanne was the business!

Scenes from the River Doubs valley

Autumn reds

Sant-Ursanne

The next day, however, there was a long, hard, steep climb ahead of us, but with quiet country lanes, we had the place to ourselves and the horses. La Chaux-de-Fonds was our destination for the day. This centre of the watch-making industry and a UNESCO world heritage site was also the birthplace of the famous architect Le Corbusier, where a few of his earlier projects still survive.

Out and about…

La Chaux-de-Fonds

Le Corbusier’s Villa Turque

Typical countryside

Val-de-Travers

The natural amphitheatre of Le Creux-du-Van, some 150m deep and formed by  water erosion from a glacier, is a must-see when in the area.

Le Creux-du-Van

Who wouldn’t cycle the Jura for such views?

Early mornings did at times mean cycling through thick, soupy fog, but once out on top it was a dream to behold.

In the fog…

… and out on top!

 Climbs were at times steep… but we were warned in advance!

Kurt’s fall… No! It wasn’t his rack, nor his rim. Even his frame was OK this time. But when Darina heard the colourful language and came upon the scene… all she could do was break her sides laughing. Click pedals might get you up the hill faster, but you shouldn’t forget you have them!
Cows, horses and chamois were bamboozled by our approach, but they seemed to understand our magnificent attempts at the French language.
Moo!

Ooh!

The Alps were out in their full glory

Views of Lac de Joux

Le Lac de Joux

Another climb and a sweet downhill brought us to Nyon and its vineyards flanking Lake Geneva, the end of the Jura trail. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, or a more spectacular season. Even though it is one of the official 9 national bike trails, it is still quite off the beaten track. If you have a sunny week off in October, go for it!

Nyon castle